BARONE: Anti-Trump Overreach Could Backfire
Overreach. Donald Trump seems to have an uncanny knack for prompting overreach by his opponents and critics. This often hurts him and the country. But it has the potential to hurt those doing the overreach as well.
Start with Trump’s speech in Warsaw last week. “As the Polish experience reminds us,” he said after recounting in vivid detail how Poland rebounded from decades of horrors, “the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail. The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”
Vitriolic criticism was quick to come from the left. “A statement of racial and religious paranoia,” wrote the Atlantic’s Peter Beinart. “The West is a racial and religious term,” he explained. An “alt-right” speech, said the New Republic’s Jeet Heer, “meant to conjure blood-and-soil nationalism.”
But Trump’s text included praise of Poland’s and Western civilizations’ resistance to Nazi and Communist totalitarianism, empowering women, striving for excellence, valuing the dignity of human life, debating and challenging “everything.” Presumably, Trump’s critics embrace each of these products of Western civilization.
Nonetheless they sneer at Trump’s pledge to oppose “another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe.” But that threat of Islamic terrorism is real.
Trump was speaking for those, like Britain’s Douglas Murray in his book “The Strange Death of Europe,” who fear that European leaders’ welcome of millions of unvetted Muslim “refugees” threatens to degrade and perhaps destroy the liberal achievements of the West. That is not racism, but prudence.
To maintain the opposite, to advocate entirely open borders, is not only problematic politically, but also as public policy. In the weeks since Trump spoke, Western eminences not considered illiberal have questioned the wisdom of allowing unlimited immigration to the West by peoples in African countries whose populations, according to United Nations projections, are set to zoom far above European levels.
Bill Gates, whose philanthropy has contributed to that growth, called for turning back boats of would-be migrants in the Mediterranean and said the influx to Germany is unsustainable. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani predicted an exodus “of biblical proportions” if migration is not limited now. French President Emanuel Macron said that Africa’s “civilizational” problems — “failed states,” “violent fundamentalism,” “Islamic terrorism” — make unlimited migration undesirable.
To call these statements “racism” or “dog whistles” to “white nationalists” is nonsense.
This week’s lead story about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian apparatchik revived the meme of Russian “collusion” and provoked similar overreach. This meeting, which included campaign manager Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner, seems to have been a waste of everyone’s time, and it’s easy to argue that it was ill-advised.
But Democratic politicians and bloggers, who haven’t given up on dreams of somehow ousting Trump from office and who are eager as always to delegitimize his presidency, have gone further.
Some have argued that attendance at the meeting violates a federal criminal statute prohibiting foreigners from giving “money or other thing of value” to a federal or state campaign.
That’s obviously a stretch. People involved in campaigns get information every day from foreign sources — starting with the Daily Mail website — which could conceivably help their cause. Common sense tells us this is not criminal behavior.
Senator Tim Kaine, who until the evening of last Nov. 8 had reason to believe he would soon be vice president, goes further. “We’re now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated. This is moving into perjury, false statements and even potentially treason,” he said this week.
This overeagerness to find a smoking gun ignores the fact that the Constitution’s standard for impeachment and removal from office is not the criminal code but “high crimes and misdemeanors” — breaches of the public trust serious enough that two-thirds of senators feel justified in overriding the results of a presidential election.
That standard was not met in 1999, when most Republicans believed Bill Clinton’s lies under oath — clearly a criminal offense — justified removal, but most Democrats believed his misbehavior was irrelevant to his official conduct.
There’s no bipartisan consensus now that Trump should go. And there’s obvious political peril, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has recognized, in Democrats’ campaigning not just for a check on the president — the usual off-year opposition theme — but for a futile 1999-style impeachment trial. Overreach is not usually good politics.
Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
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Last Updated: Thursday, Jul 13, 2017 11:11:46 -0700
From 1974 to 1981, Barone was vice president of the polling firm of Peter D. Hart Research Associates. From 1981 to 1988, he was a member of the editorial page staff of The Washington Post. From 1989 to 1996 and again from 1998 to 2009, Barone was a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report. He was senior staff editor at Reader's Digest from 1996 to 1998.
Barone is the principal co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, published by National Journal every two years. The first edition appeared in 1971. He is also the author of Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan (Free Press, 1990), The New Americans: How the Melting Pot Can Work Again (Regnery, 2001) and Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Competition for the Nation's Future (Crown Forum, 2004).
Over the years, Barone has written for many publications, including The Economist, The New York Times, The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, National Review, The American Spectator, American Enterprise, The Times Literary Supplement and The Daily Telegraph of London. He has served as a political contributor to the Fox News Channel since 1998 and has appeared on many other television programs.
Barone graduated from Harvard College (1966) and Yale Law School (1969), and was an editor of the Harvard Crimson and the Yale Law Journal. He served as law clerk to Judge Wade H. McCree Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1969 to 1971.
Barone lives in Washington, D.C. He has traveled to all 50 states and all 435 congressional districts. He has also traveled abroad extensively and has reported on elections in Russia, Mexico, Italy and Britain.
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Originally posted at http://get.creators.com/content/release/207906.